What Happened To The Music, Man?

November 26, 2013
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Technology has systematically made talent as a prerequisite virtually obsolete, musicianship unnecessary and turned intellectual property into public domain.

From local bar gigs to weddings to private parties, quality of music has been replaced by inexpensive, mediocre performances and karaoke or DJ fillers. Pop radio stations mostly play auto-tuned gibberish devoid of creative or original song crafting. Even the MTV music awards, where the modern stars are being showcased, have reverted to today’s musical standards; shock value and branding ability as opposed to talent and soul.

music is going up in flamesThe controversy around this divisiveness is way off the mark as far as I can tell. The heart of the matter should be: where is the music?

Music has historically been part of the fabric of buoying humanity through difficult times. Musicians in most cultures are highly valued and respected and their gift is prized.

In this day and age anybody with garage band or pro tools can put together a CD and get a bar gig. This flood of mediocrity has lowered the standards. There are suddenly a plethora of bands willing to play for next to nothing just for the exposure so bar and club owners can pay less and still advertise live music for their venues. As a result, fewer people go out to hear live music and talented musicians who have spent decades perfecting their trade are suddenly out of a job. Musician friends tell me that today, in 2013, musicians are paid approximately two thirds less than in 1980.

The level of respect given to musicians has also diminished. Where dinner and drinks were once part of the pay, it is now not uncommon for bands to be relegated to what amounts to a very limited children’s menu if they are offered food at all. Audiences talk through entire sets, frequently withholding applause or any form of recognition while performers turn up the volume and club staff asks them to turn down the volume.

The sale of music, or lack thereof, is perhaps the most demoralizing aspect of a musician’s diminished ability to earn a living. As soon as a song or a record is released to even one person, it has essentially been given away for free to every single person in the world. Most music sites pay portions of pennies to the artist if they pay anything at all. In 2013, paying for music is an absurd notion to most people. Free downloads, burning and sharing are the ways we collect extensive libraries of music. This is theft. This is essentially taking food off of the artist’s table, stripping the artist of the ability to support their family with their hard work.

The mega stars have resorted to giving away their music, as it is not through record sales that they earn a living. To be really successful in the music industry, it is not the music that matters. It’s the ability to become a brand name. Clothing lines, make-up lines, jewelry lines and accessories are the selling products of successful musicians. Sex appeal usurps talent. Tabloid coverage is more important than music reviews. Shock value amounts to recognition.

In all of this I ask you, where is the music?

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